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My first movie

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BOGART AND BERGMAN. The screening of their classic starrer was a big social event in Iloilo.

I clearly remember the very first film I saw: “Casablanca.” The adults in my family were very excited when they were invited to watch it at Mrs. Lolita dela Rama Lopez’s home in Iloilo.

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Thanks for the wonderful cinematic memories

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FLYNN. Dashing, swashbuckling star of “Robin Hood.”

Eagle theater was a premiere moviehouse in Iloilo City right after the war. It was owned by Don Teodoro Benedicto, who later became known as the Tango King of the Philippines.

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When ‘sinful’ stars play saints

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BERGMAN. Cast as a religious icon in “Joan of Arc.”

Because I was raised a Protestant, I always cast a suspicious eye on movies about men and women who are “sainted” by the Roman Catholic Church. Fortunately, they turned out to be fine films that starred famous actresses—like Ingrid Bergman (“Joan of Arc”) and Jennifer Jones (“The Song of Bernadette”).

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From spy to villain

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RATHBONE. Portrayed Sherlock Holmes in 16 feature films.

Before Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet, the screen villain moviegoers most loved to hate was Basil Rathbone. He had a knack for acting, but World War I interrupted his rise to fame. He was trained as a Shakespearean actor before he was noticed by Hollywood.

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Norma Shearer was as versatile as she was charismatic

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SHEARER. Won her first beauty title at age 5.

When we talk about Hollywood’s golden era, we remember Norma Shearer. The beautiful and well-mannered actress married “boy genius” Irving Thalberg. She started her career in silent pictures but remained famous when sound became popular. She starred in “Romeo and Juliet,” “Marie Antoinette” and “The Women,” among other films.

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Gone too soon

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GARLAND. Fame and fortune don’t guarantee happiness.

There have been many incidents of suicide in Hollywood—Carole Landis, Lupe Velez, Margaret Sullavan and Judy Garland, who attempted suicide so many times that no one was surprised when she finally “succeeded.”

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Dorothy Lamour popularized dark-skinned beauties

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LAMOUR. Best remembered for her road movies with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

I was initially drawn to Dorothy Lamour because of her long, dark hair, great legs and exotic beauty. She was declared Miss New Orleans in 1931 and soon became a singer. In the film capital, she was nicknamed the “Beautiful One,” before people started calling her the “Sarong Girl.”

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When beauty fades

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TAYLOR. Her wealth couldn’t hide her flaws.

Actresses like Hedy Lamarr, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor were so gorgeous in their heyday that they left viewers breathless! Lamarr was famous in pre-war black and white films, and was once considered the most beautiful woman in the world. Taylor was breathtakingly lovely in films like “The Last Time I Saw Paris” and “Cleopatra.”

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In the swim with Johnny and Esther

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WILLIAMS. Topbilled MGM’s lavish screen spectacles. photos from tumblr.com

I became a fan of Johnny Weissmuller after I saw my first “Tarzan” film, when I was only 8 years old. He was the best Tarzan of them all—not as well-built as Gordon Scott nor as good-looking as Lex Barker, but he was a true-blue Olympic swimming champion!

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Will Filipino film actors ever win an Oscar?

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AGBAYANI. Acted in some Hollywood movies

Filipinos have made it on Broadway, and we’ve won the Miss Universe and Miss International crowns a number of times. The big question is, “Will Pinoys ever win an Oscar?” Let’s pray that it happens sooner than later.

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Carillo, Tiongco opened doors for Pinoy performers

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CARILLO, with Robert Mitchum (left) and Sabu in “Rampage.”

Many people are surprised when I inform them that talented Filipinos weren’t first noticed with “Miss Saigon.” Truth is, petite singer Cely Carillo and mestiza dancer Maureen Tiongco were the first Pinoys on Broadway.

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Where have the ‘singing actors’ gone?

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HAYMES. Romantic, velvety voice.

Where have all the “singing actors” gone? Dick Haymes was among the very best, because of his romantic, velvety voice. He sang “Speak Low,” the theme song of the Ava Gardner starrer, “One Touch of Venus.”

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